Saturday, February 1, 2014

Blood, Sweat, Tears, and HP

Most men and not a few women from my generation probably inadvertently dedicated to memory these words at some point in their youth:

I want to be the very best,
Like no one ever was. 
To catch them is my real test, 
To train them is my cause. 

These lines—obviously alluding metrically to the influence of one Emily Dickinson—are from the original Pokémon theme song, and I am worried that someday I will be old and demented and remember nothing but this, which I will repeat endlessly in my corner of the nursing home. (Oliver Sacks and Daniel Levitin tell us that song-memory is the last thing to go.)

We can all remember the gusto with which the song was performed—a kind of zesty, punchy voice not dissimilar from "Beat It"-era Michael Jackson. It turns out that the guy whose footfalls echo destructively in the memories of the best minds of my generation is named Jason Paige, who is also the most recent lead singer of the band Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Blood, Sweat & Tears (note: written with no Oxford comma, and always with an ampersand) had its heyday between 1967 and 1972, and is best known among most of us who spent our youths listening to oldies stations from the backseat for the song "Spinning Wheel," which always sounds more psychedelic than you remember it being:

Paige is apparently also a confirmed libertarian, and re-recorded a modified version of the Pokémon theme song for Ron Paul's 2008 campaign, apparently inspired by the second verse, which runs something like "I will travel across the land, / Searching far and wide." Come to think of it, a society in which people make money by waylaying travelers on highways and challenging them to cockfights that involve the relative strength of animals that you pit against one another without interference from the laws does seem to have a certain libertarian streak to it. A ubiquitous system of medical centers that provide free health care to all the sick and wounded, however? Well, that would be a cause for Joy indeed.

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